This Nursery Staple Belongs in Your Grown-Up Kitchen, and Here’s Why

published May 29, 2023
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dining area with white walls, round marble dining table with different colored midcentury chairs, parquet wood floor, framed heart poster, window with potted plant on sill, doors open to balcony with table and chairs
Credit: Megan McKean

When designing and decorating, ceilings often go overlooked. Some people push the envelope by wallpapering or painting their “fifth walls” with something bold, while others choose a more nature-inspired installation of a few suspended plants. If you’re looking for something a little more outside the box, though, you may want to find a little inspiration from a baby nursery, just as illustrator and designer Megan McKean did in her home.

McKean lives in a 1,240-square-foot apartment in Malmö, Sweden, with her husband, Joshua. The couple was new to Sweden and looked at this apartment online for weeks before finally getting to tour it in person. “I’ll never forget walking into the living room for the first time, seeing the view, and turning around and mouthing to Josh, ‘This is it,’” McKean says. Now, two years later, she and her husband have turned the apartment into a colorful slice of their shared whimsy. 

“I would describe our overall style as fun and fancy,” McKeans says in her house tour. “My husband and I love pieces that have a sense of personality to them, but are also of a really high quality that will last a really long time.” You get a sense of that intentional design all throughout their home, from the large-scale, sturdy furniture they’ve chosen to the bold shades peppered around them. The couple also made a few unique decorating moves that paid off visually, including hanging an abstract mobile from the ceiling above their dinner table.

Credit: Megan McKean

Essentially one large open room, McKean separated her kitchen from the “dining area” by carving out a spot for a circular table close to the entrance to her balcony. Typically, in a space like this, you’d see a pendant or hybrid light/ceiling fan fixture providing guidance for placing the table, but the one overhead lamp in this open area is much closer to the cabinetry and appliances. In order to anchor the table more visually in space then, McKean actually mounted a ceiling hook just off-center of the table and then hung a brass mobile from it. 

Traditionally, mobiles are placed in nurseries above a crib or bassinet as a piece of decor that draws the eye up and entertains a baby; truthfully, the geometric Sacha Jacobsen design essentially does the same thing here, albeit in a slightly more sophisticated way. “Josh and I wanted to give the kitchen a more youthful feel and make it somewhere that feels friendly and comfortable to cook in,” McKean says. Well, mission accomplished! In addition to the fun artwork and colorful chairs, this joyful design detail gives diners something shiny to look at, and it also helps to balance out the slightly wonky placement of the room’s only true overhead light.

If you’ve been searching for a way to make your ceiling more interesting or want to get rid of your overhead lighting altogether (anti-“big light” people, I see you!), don’t overlook mobiles. They come in lots of different motifs, sizes, and materials, so something is guaranteed to speak to your personal style. And it’ll always be a great conversation starter for brunch or dinner-party guests.